The Arkansas Razorbacks and Missouri State Bears are set to play in College Baseball’s Super Regional in Fayetteville, AR. That means there’s only 16 teams remaining in the playoffs, which will ultimately send 8 teams to the College World Series in Omaha, NE.
The best of 3 series will start today (Friday afternoon) at 3:30 p.m. and televised on ESPN2. Game two is Saturday at 1:00 p.m. on ESPN2. Game three (if necessary) will be Sunday at 2:00 p.m. on ESPN2 or ESPNU.
Both teams are coming off a 3-game sweep of their Regionals. Arkansas took down Oral Roberts, Oklahoma State and St. John’s in that order. Missouri beat Canisius and then Iowa twice to earn their spot.
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Friday’s scheduled starters: (MSU) Jon Harris – 1.85 ERA vs (Ark) Trey Killian – 4.76 ERA
Saturday’s scheduled starters: (MSU) Matt Hall – 2.17 ERA vs (Ark) Keaton McKinney – 3.21 ERA
The Razorbacks turned in one of their most spectacular seasons in recent memory. At one point, the Hogs were just 11-12 on the season and in dire need of some leadership and pitching. Fans and analysts were already calling for head coach Dave Van Horn’s head, saying “He’s out of his prime and in over his head now.”
The doubters were silenced quickly as the Hogs rattled off eight straight conference series wins and finished the season on a 27-10 run.
SEC and National Player of the Year Andrew Benintendi really stepped up his game and during this incredible run and pitchers Trey Killian, Keaton McKinney and Zach Jackson settled into their roles and led the charge on a pitching staff that looked like it was dropping off a cliff through 25 games.
The Razorbacks come into the Super Regional as one of the hottest teams in the nation, but find them in a rare situation where they get to host a Super Regional despite being roughly 15 spots behind the Bears in the national rankings.
Missouri State (48-10)
The Bears come in with a remarkable overall record. Missouri State clearly plays against a lesser competition in conference, but have also faced noticeable premiere opponents in non-conference, including Arkansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Missouri; beating three of the four listed.
The Bears best hitter is infielder Jake Burger, who comes in with a .338 batting average, having hit 3 home runs and plating 41 runners. He’s struck out only 28 times in 216 at bats this season.
Missouri State’s biggest contributors display their talents on the pitching staff. The Bears showcase two of the best pitchers in the country. Junior right handed Jon Harris has a 1.85 ERA and an 8-1 record in 14 starts this season. He has struck out 113 batters and was named the pitcher of the year in the Missouri Valley Conference. Junior left handed Matt Hall leads the NCAA this season with 163 strikeouts in 116 innings.
The Bears have already defeated Arkansas in one mid-week game early in the season 2-0. Both teams started pitchers that will likely play a small role in this weekend’s series, but the Bears did see freshman right hander Keaton McKinney for two innings. McKinney is scheduled to face the Bears in Saturday’s game two.